Poor Officiating Causes Heartbreak for Rutgers in Big East Tournament

Zach GreubelCorrespondent IIMarch 9, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09:  Dwight Hardy #12 of the St..Johns Red Storm lays the ball up against Gilvydas Biruta #55 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the second round of the 2011 Big East Men's Basketball Tournament presented by American Eagle Outfitters at Madison Square Garden on March 9, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

There was a robbery in New York at Madison Square Garden Wednesday afternoon. The suspects were three referees who took away multiple opportunities for the Rutgers men's basketball team, to upset St. John's in the second round of the Big East Tournament.

The first incident occurred when Rutgers' senior guard, Mike Coburn, drove the middle of the lane, drew what should have been obvious contact and missed a layup that would have tied the game. Coburn's missed shot took a nasty ricochet as Red Storm and Rutgers players alike went after the loose ball.

Replays confirmed what the naked eye could see, or should have seen; a push in the back of a Scarlet Knight by a St. John's player. However, there was no foul called and the referee deemed that the Rutgers' player had touched the ball before it went out of bounds, so it was St. Johns' ball.

When St. Johns led 65-63 with a few seconds left to play, Rutgers inbounded the ball. It was a heave just past mid-court to Rutgers' freshman forward, Gilvydas Biruta. Biruta seemed to have control of the ball until a St. Johns' player seemed to go over the back, which is also listed as a foul in the rulebook, of Biruta and dislodge the ball.

This is when the action became especially chaotic and controversial. Senior Red Storm forward, Justin Brownlee, confiscated the loose ball and began running with it out of bounds with approximately two seconds remaining.

The referees did nothing. They walked off the court with every member of the Rutgers' bench screaming at them, as they had a right to do.

There were three or more missed calls that, if called correctly, could have spelled a memorable upset victory for Rutgers.

It was a simple matter of lost composure; the referees didn't want the game to be in their hands. They let the players play, illegally.

St. John's has played great all season, but they know they got away with one. 

*Update- the three referees have withdrawn from the remainder of the Big East Tournament